Disaster is a team effort. Read this story about partners working together to help Florida’s small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma.
Peckett's, Inc. is a plant nursery that specializes in growing two types of plants: Spathiphyllum, also known as Peace Lilly that is sold year round, and Christmas Cactus that is sold seasonally from November 1st to December 16th. The company distributes these two specialty plants across North America.
In September 2017, the nursery sustained physical damage from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, Milan Perlly, President of Peckett's, turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (UCF) for help securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
Hurricane Irma caused quite significant damage to our nursery. We incurred nearly 50% losses in our greenhouses as well as our shade houses. Roofs were blown off, plants were scattered everywhere, and some of the nursery houses just collapsed from the strong winds. Essentially, we lost about 50% of our crops under growth and 50% of our infrastructure, to various degrees of severity.
How will the Emergency Bridge Loan help?
This bridge loan is going to significantly help us with cash flow so we can do patchwork to salvage whatever plants we can, so we can buy the materials, and pay for the labor we need very badly to rebuild.
This loan is really a godsend from the State of Florida to help us continue our operations and salvage what we can until the insurance helps recover with the rebuilding and replanting.
How helpful was the Florida SBDC at UCF?
My Florida SBDC consultant was a wonderful advocate. We had no power, and I came to the office and the Florida SBDC printed out the forms and helped me fill it out and complete it. Then they updated me almost daily, helped me get the necessary documents, and watched over my progress towards completing the applications. And it all took less than a week.
I am really excited. This is exactly what we need after a disaster. We needed help right away and the Florida SBDC was on top of it and able to provide me the assistance I needed.
About the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in collaboration with the Florida SBDC Network, and supported by Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is a short-term, interest-free working capital loan intended to help small businesses “bridge the gap” between the time of a declared disaster and when the business has secured long-term recovery resources, such as insurance proceeds or federal disaster assistance. Governor Rick Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program on Thursday, September 14 and the first loan was distributed the following Monday. Eligible businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for loans up to $50,000 for 90 or 180-day terms.
As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function for Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization, the Florida SBDC Network supports disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation Services. As part of its service offering, Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.